Celebrating with the Messiah
Everyone knows the Hallelujah chorus. It’s used in TV, movies and commercials. But do you know where it comes from, who wrote it or that in December, millions of people around the world gather together to perform it? Read on for more about this Baroque music pop-culture phenomenon and why it’s a must-attend event this December.
A German turned Brit, George Frideric Händel was born in Germany in 1685. Beethoven said of Händel, “He is the greatest composer that ever lived.” High praise from one of the other greatest composers who ever lived! Handel wrote many operas, sonatas and organ concertos. Among them was his most famous and sustained work, a musical composition called Messiah. It was the popular music of its time, flashy and avant-garde, unlike the standard music of the mid-18th century. Soloists were encouraged to change the original notes to show off their voices. Messiah was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742. (Fun Fact: Frederick was officially founded three years later, in 1745, making the Messiah Oratorio and our town the same age).
The reception in Dublin was resounding, with more than 700 people in attendance, and women were encouraged to wear dresses without hoops to allow for more patrons in the theater. Over time, the performance of Handel’s Messiah migrated from Easter to Christmas and has since become a regular holiday tradition for millions of people around the world.
Fast forward 275 years, and you can find a holiday performance of the Messiah in nearly every major city in the world. Frederick has its own production of Handel’s Messiah here at the Weinberg Center. This year is the 25th anniversary of its appearance in Frederick’s tradition performed by the Frederick Children’s Chorus.